Bruce Lee is best known as a martial artist and movie star, but he was also an impressive businessman. During the sixties, he opened up a small chain of Kung Fu studios where he taught his own style called Jun Fan Gung Fu. It was Bruce’s business savvy, as well as his mastery of martial arts, that made his schools so successful – his students included some of the most popular celebrities of the time, like Steve McQueen, James Garner, Chuck Norris, and James Coburn.
The thing that helped Bruce Lee to become some successful was that he found it easy to take wisdom from one area of his life and apply it to another. He didn’t care about tradition and artificial boundaries on knowledge. He only cared about what worked – even when this annoyed the purists. This is why when he created his own style of Kung Fu; he didn’t hesitate about borrowing techniques from fencing, boxing, and even dancing (in 1958, he won a cha-cha dancing championship). It also meant that Bruce could use his knowledge of martial arts and Eastern philosophy to help him succeed in business. It wasn’t that he invented anything completely new, but that he saw connections that other people just couldn’t see.
Bruce Lee has been dead for 40 years, but he remains a hero to millions of people around the globe. He earned this lasting reputation by being innovative, demanding the best of himself, and refusing to accept any barriers put in front of him. Bruce had all the same excuses for failure as everyone else, but he refused to allow fear to control his life. He had an amazing ability to turn adversity to his own advantage. Here are just 10 secrets from the mind of Bruce Lee that can benefit anyone hoping to succeed in business.
10. Make Your Own Opportunities
“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”
Approaching life defensively can only ever lead to mediocrity. If aspiring entrepreneurs wait for the right circumstances before doing anything, it is doubtful that they will ever get beyond the dreaming stage. Kung-Fu was practically unknown in the US when Bruce opened his first school, and there was plenty of racism towards Chinese people in society, but he ignored these realities and created his own opportunities.
9. The Only Thing That Matters Is What Works
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
There are plenty of useful business models, and inspirational entrepreneur gurus, but there is no need to commit to just one approach. It is okay for entrepreneurs to take things from different sources, and change them to fit their exact needs. Nobody is completely right or completely wrong. The benefit of the Bruce Lee approach to learning is it means picking up useful wisdom while ignoring anything that isn’t going to work.
8. Focus On The Needs Of Others
“Real living is living for others.”
The secret to being successful in the modern business world is to provide things that benefit the lives of other people. This advice might sound obvious, but there are still too many entrepreneurs who hope to achieve riches through manipulation and sleazy false promises. It is much better to focus on serving the needs of other people – this is what made it possible for Steve Jobs to keep on coming up with products that he knew his customers would adore.
7. Learn To Be Flexible
“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”
A common mistake that people when make when they go into business is they become too attached to a plan. They forget that the important thing is to reach their goal and that the plan is just a tool for getting them to this point. No business plan should be written in stone, because it is vital to keep on adapting it in response to changing circumstances. When Bruce Lee opened his first martial arts school, he only wanted a bit of extra cash to pay for his studies at college – luckily for the rest of the world, things didn’t go as he planned.
6. Keep Things Simple
“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”
There is this tendency in business to associate increased complexity with greater success. It explains why so many initially successful companies have failed to keep their customers happy. Making things more complicated just stifles innovation, prevents creativity, and acts as a barrier to communication. It is so important that entrepreneurs are able to focus on the simple things that work – it is as much about saying ‘no’ to things as it is about saying ‘yes’.
5. Don’t Expect Things To Be Easy
“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”
It takes guts, persistence, and confidence to survive in the business world. This is the way it is, and there is no benefit to complaining about it or wishing it was different. Bruce Lee didn’t wait for the universe to provide him with an easy path to success – instead he developed the determination to deal with life on life’s terms.
4. Learn From Mistakes
“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”
Bruce Lee first became famous for playing the role of Kato in the show ‘The Green Hornet’. The show was successful, and it meant a bit of fame for him in the US, but he couldn’t escape the feeling that he had made a mistake by accepting the role. Bruce learned a lot from this experience, and it made him more determined about never compromising his values in the pursuit of wealth or fame. It is probably impossible for entrepreneurs to make progress without first making mistakes – the important thing is to be able to recognize and learn from these mistakes.
3. Don’t Lose Sight Of What Is Important
“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”
It is a good idea to have some business goals, but it is more important to enjoy the process of working to these targets. Too many entrepreneurs feel miserable because of this belief: ‘I’ll feel happy and successful when I achieve X’. The problem is that even when this goal is achieved, the person has another one to work towards. This means that success is always going to be over the next mountain. It is better to think of goals as a direction rather than any type of magical destination. There is no need to wait to reach a goal before enjoying life.
2. Approach Life With A Sense Of Urgency
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”
Life is too short to sit around waiting around for nice things to happen. Bruce Lee died when he was 32 years of age, but he packed far more into his short time on earth than the average person who lives to be 80. There is no way to tell how many more years there are left to find success, so it is important to approach life with a sense of urgency.
1. Trust Your Own Vision
“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”
Bruce Lee is a legend because he refused to live his life based on the expectations of other people. He forged his own path and won admiration by expressing his own abilities, personality, and wisdom. This willingness to trust and commit to a personal vision is something that all great entrepreneurs share.